When it comes to maintaining its stable of franchises, no video game company arguably does it better than Nintendo. For over three decades now, Nintendo has consistently put out new titles in the Mario, Zelda, Metroid (OK, maybe that last one hasn’t been so consistent), and numerous other series, and while the company has left behind some lower performing ones, there aren’t many that have been outright abandoned.
On the other hand, Sony has taken a very different approach, as the PlayStation maker is not afraid to leave aging franchises behind in favor of pursuing new ones. Each successive generation of PlayStation consoles has largely brought a new wave of first-party properties and while some have managed to stick around, we’ve lost plenty others along the way and it’s unclear if some of them will ever make a return. With that in mind, here are 12 dormant PlayStation franchises that should get a revival.
Out of all the franchises on this list, MediEvil is the one I’m most on the fence about when it comes to whether it needs to be revived or not. For one thing, cartoony action games pretty much went out of vogue in the 32-bit era and it’s hard to tell whether there’s a place anymore for Sir Daniel Fortesque and his lovable one-eyed skele-face. Then again, any game that features skeletons is a win in my book and if Sony can justify putting out two Knack games on the PS4, surely there’s room for MediEvil and its family-friendly hack-and-slash action. The good news is we’ll soon be able to tell whether MediEvil still has a sizable fanbase or not, as a PS4 remaster is currently in the works. If that performs well, it could open the door to Sir Daniel coming back for real and not just in the occasional PlayStation All-Stars cameo.
11. PlayStation All-Stars
There’s a whole generation of PlayStation fans who grew up dreaming about which characters would be on the roster of a Sony-produced Super Smash Bros. clone … and then it actually happened. The biggest surprise with PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale isn’t that it was made, but that it took Sony so long to actually do it, as the game was released a full 13 years after Nintendo put out the original Super Smash Bros. But to Sony’s credit, PlayStation All-Stars was fundamentally a different kind of brawler. Whereas in Smash you defeat other combatants by knocking them off the playing field, All-Stars was built around the careful use of special attacks, as these were the only moves that could eliminate an opponent.
With a roster comprised of a wide-ranging mix of PlayStation characters including Jak & Daxter, Ratchet & Clank, and even Twisted Metal’s Sweet Tooth, PlayStation All-Stars seemed all set to launch a successful Smash Bros. competitor but despite selling over a million copies worldwide, Sony hasn’t expressed much interest in a sequel and the recent shutdown of the original game’s servers certainly doesn’t bode well for future PlayStation fisticuffs. That being said, there’s still a lot of potential here and if Nintendo can get away with five different Smash games in a 20-year span, surely a PlayStation All-Stars 2 isn’t asking too much.
While mascots like Crash and Spyro tend to get all the attention, many forget that the PlayStation was home to all kinds of colorful platformers, including the two Tomba! games put out by the now-defunct Whoopee Camp studio. Unlike either of those aforementioned franchises, both Tomba! and its sequel Tomba! 2: The Evil Swine Returns were strictly side-scrolling platformers, but ones that got quite creative with gameplay on a 2D plane. At certain points in a level, you could alternate between different planes, which helped make the games feel less linear than they actually were.
Unfortunately, the Tomba! franchise essentially died when Whoopee Camp disbanded following the second game’s poor commercial performance. Still, this is a franchise that Sony still holds the rights to and with the increasing importance of indie games and digital distribution over the last decade, there’s no reason a Tomba! revival sold for $20 or under couldn’t make some headway on the PlayStation Store. The nostalgia kick alone would be enough to entice many players but 2D platformers — especially those of the challenging ‘Metroidvania’ ilk — have seen increased popularity in recent years, so if Tomba! could tap into that market, Sony might have a modest hit on its hands.
9. The Order
Okay, The Order is not a classic PlayStation franchise by any stretch of the imagination; in fact, it isn’t even a franchise, as only one mediocre game has been released thus far. But even though that game — a third-person shooter released in early 2015 on the PS4 — has already been largely forgotten about, I think developer Ready at Dawn deserves another shot to get things right.
The Order: 1886 may have been a short, shallow experience with limited variation and far too many quick time events, but the cool Steampunk vision of Victorian England that Ready at Dawn created had a ton of potential and to this day, the game is still one of the most visually-impressive titles released for the PS4. Since The Order was released, Ready at Dawn has produced two virtual reality games, including the excellent Lone Echo, so perhaps a VR overhaul could help bring The Order back. As things stand, I think it would be a shame to abandon what could be a valuable PlayStation franchise after only one game, but time will tell if this one is ever revisited.
8. Ape Escape
Though it never quite reached the same level of popularity as other PlayStation titles like Crash Bandicoot or Metal Gear Solid, the original Ape Escape was nonetheless an important game for Sony’s first home console. Released in 1999, Ape Escape was the first game that made the DualShock controller mandatory, as the game’s controls centered around the use of the controller’s twin analog sticks. That being said, Ape Escape was more than just a game with a control gimmick, being an entertaining platformer in its own right.
Unfortunately, the string of sequels never really matched the original game’s heights and it feels like the franchise has never truly hit its full potential, especially since the last few games have largely just been minigame collections or lackluster spinoffs. Sure, all you really did was run around and catch monkeys in a net, but Ape Escape kept things fresh by throwing a bunch of cool gadgets at you (rotating the right analog stick to use Spike’s propeller gadget blew my 10-year-old mind). Plus, you got to bash monkeys in the head with a weapon that looked like a lightsaber. Who wouldn’t want to do that?
7. Parappa the Rapper
The title that pretty much invented the rhythm game genre and paved the way for games such as Dance Dance Revolution, Amplitude, and Guitar Hero, PaRappa the Rapper turned players’ DualShock controllers into an instrument, as you needed to time button presses to match specific beats. While the rhythm-based gameplay was addictive in its own right, it wouldn’t have been half as engaging if it weren’t for PaRappa the Rapper’s charming sense of style, with papercraft-like animations, interesting character and most importantly, catchy tunes.
Unfortunately, over a two decade span, the game has only spawned two follow-up titles: the guitar-based spinoff Um Jammer Lammy in 1999 and a direct sequel, PaRappa the Rapper 2, for the PlayStation 2 in 2001. Rhythm games have gone out of fashion to a degree ever since the plastic instrument crash but as the 2016 Amplitude reboot proved, there is still a niche to be filled by traditional button-prompt music games. A $20 downloadable PaRappa game could be just the thing to get the series up and rhyming again. You gotta believe!
6. Jet Moto
The Jet Moto franchise has been dormant for two decades now, with 1999’s Jet Moto 3 being the last game in franchise to date. Created by the legendary PlayStation studio SingleTrac, which also produced the original WarHawk and the first two Twisted Metal titles before closing its doors in 2000, Jet Moto was one of the best racing franchises the PS1 had to offer. The fast-paced arcade gameplay, which saw players navigating futuristic hover bikes through a variety of unconventional courses, offered PlayStation owners their own version of Nintendo’s acclaimed Wave Race series.
Unfortunately, jet ski racers don’t really exist anymore but it’s not like racing games have gone anywhere. With the power of the PS4, Sony could craft a beautiful modern Jet Moto the likes of which we couldn’t have imagined back in the late 90s. One need only look at Microsoft’s success with the Forza Horizon franchise to see that racing games offering over-the-top stunts and big, gorgeous environments still draw a lot of players and that is an experience a new Jet Moto could definitely deliver.
5. Twisted Metal
There was a time when car combat was a legitimate video game genre. In the wake of the original Twisted Metal’s success on the PS1, copycats flooded the market, to the point where we even got a Star Wars
car landspeeder combat game! The demise of the genre was probably a good thing in the long run, as there’s only so much you can do with poorly-controlled vehicles shooting rockets at each other, but the Twisted Metal franchise managed to hang around much longer than the others. Twisted Metal: Black on the PlayStation 2 is arguably still the best car combat game ever made and the 2012 reboot game successfully modernized the franchise’s core mechanics, but was held back by some weird design decisions (only three characters? C’mon guys!).
If Twisted Metal were to return, it would need to make some fundamental design overhauls in order to make an impact (Rocket League with machine guns anyone?) but the franchise has an important enough place in PlayStation legacy to not be left to smolder on the side of the road.
4. SOCOM: U.S. Nave SEALs
There was a time when SOCOM was one of the biggest names in online multiplayer, as the early games in the series developed by the now-defunct Zipper Interactive almost single-handedly pushed the PlayStation 2’s online capabilities (and moved a heck of a lot of network adapters) thanks to its polished, team-focused third-person combat. Unfortunately, while the studio continued to find success on the portable end thanks to the surprisingly good Fireteam Bravo spinoffs on the PSP, SOCOM’s console fortunes began to decline during the PS3 era, ending with a relative whimper in 2011 with SOCOM 4, which made very little impact and saw its servers shut down less than three years later, effectively putting the franchise on indefinite hiatus.
While the competition for multiplayer-driven games is stronger than ever, SOCOM could still find its niche in the current era if things were handled right. Turning SOCOM into a Rainbow Six Siege-like experience, with consistent updates and a dedicated player base would arguably be the best approach, though that same competition could very well be the reason why Sony has yet to pull the trigger on a new SOCOM for the better part of a decade.
3. Syphon Filter
When it comes to third-person action on the PS1, the gold standard will always be Metal Gear Solid but Sony’s first console featured another series that broke quite a bit of ground in the genre. With its mix of stealth and gunplay, Syphon Filter helped exemplify the PlayStation brand’s “games for adults” reputation, as it also had a surprisingly decent spy thriller plot revolving around a biological outbreak. The franchise had a second life of sorts on the PSP, culminating with 2007’s Syphon Filter: Logan’s Shadow, arguably the best game in the series.
Since that time though, Syphon Filter has been on hiatus and it’s hard to understand why. With how far third-person shooters have come since Syphon Filter’s heyday in the late 90s/early 2000s, not to mention the jump in graphical horsepower, a new game could make for a fantastic cinematic action-adventure that Sony could add to their already stellar PS4 exclusives lineup. With series developer Sony Bend currently occupied with Days Gone, it will be some time before they’d be able to realistically get the chance to tackle a new Syphon Filter but considering we’ve already waited over a decade, it’s not like there’s any rush.
When the PlayStation 3 launched in 2006, it offered little in the way of compelling software to justify its absurd $600 asking price. However, there was one game that made a strong case for being a “killer app” and that was Resistance: Fall of Man, a gritty alternate history first-person shooter developed by Insomniac Games. Unfortunately, Insomniac was never able to settle on a firm identity for the franchise, as Resistance 2 was ambitious but disappointing, while Resistance 3 featured a stronger single-player campaign but forgettable multiplayer.
It really felt like the studio needed one more kick at the can to get things right but a combination of weak sales (the two portable spinoffs, Resistance: Retribution and Resistance: Burning Skies, didn’t exactly light the world on fire either – no pun intended on that last one) and the fact that Sony already had a more successful military shooter series in its stable in the Killzone franchise convinced Insomniac to abandon Resistance. CEO Ted Price confirmed in 2017 that the studio had no plans to develop more games in the series but since it’s Sony that holds the franchise rights, there’s always a chance the reins could be handed off to a different studio.
1. Jak & Daxter
Some may argue that a series such as Jak & Daxter — a mascot platformer with cartoonish characters — is played out at this point, but anyone who played through Naughty Dog’s trilogy (the spinoff racing game was okay too) would definitely tell you otherwise. The Jak games were some of the strongest Sony exclusives during the PS2 generation, but when Naughty Dog decided to move onto more sophisticated fare with Uncharted and The Last of Us on the PlayStation 3, the series pretty much went with them.
A PSP title called Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier was released in 2009, but it wasn’t developed by Naughty Dog and paled in comparison to what the studio accomplished with the original games. Naughty Dog currently has no plans to make another game (although they haven’t ruled it out completely), though Sony could always get another studio to create it if Naughty Dog doesn’t want to. Either way, it’s unlikely that we’ve seen the last of Jak & Daxter, but we’ll probably have to wait awhile for the duo to return.